Property management—let’s talk bare necessities

Colin McCarthy
Colin McCarthy | 3 min. read
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Published on June 22, 2011

In my last entry, we discussed how it was possible in this great country of ours that a burglar could sue a property owner for injuries he sustained while robbing that same property owner.

In my next entry, we will discuss why it is in the fine state of California that a tenant can sue his landlord for injuries sustained on the property which are inflicted by criminals.  But in this entry, I will get a little more practical: we will discuss just what your responsibility is to your tenants regarding the livability of the unit.

Just what do you—the property owner—have to provide to your residential tenant to remain in compliance with the law?  Well most of this is just common sense. If people are going to live in the premises, if you do not provide the following, not only are you not being nice, but you are breaking the law:

  • A weatherproof environment. The unit has to have a roof and walls as well as doors and windows that are unbroken (more on this next entry!)
  • Electricity. It may come as a surprise to you that most will not want to rent your unit if they cannot plug in a TV and refrigerator. Or it may not.
  • Plumbing. It may also come as a surprise to you that not only would most tenants enjoy a good shower and functioning toilet, but the law generally requires it.
  • Gas and heating. People don’t like to be cold and they don’t like to eat only cold food.
  • Trash barrels. You have to provide your tenants with someplace to put their trash.
  • Rat and vermin free. The unit has to be free from debris and not be infested by rodents and vermin.
  • Working floors and stairs. There cannot be holes in your floors or stairs that do not function as such. Your tenant should not have difficulty walking around the unit because of structural problems.

There are other requirements, as well: the bathtub and/or shower has to work; all living spaces (not closets) should have natural light via a window or skylight; there should be fire exits that perform that function; and the locks should work.  If you have a multi-unit complex, you are required to provide smoke detectors and keep the common areas clean and free from debris.

Without a doubt, readers of All Things Property Management will not be surprised to learn the law requires rental units to be livable. They will have the common sense and decency to provide these basic life amenities in their rental units.

And if their tenant happens to be Colin McCarthy, they would also have the good sense to go ahead and provide him with a Roku XDS in every room, have the unit wireless internet ready, and give him a cloud subscription in perpetuity for unlimited storage of multimedia. All at no extra cost.

This blog submission is only for purposes of disseminating information. It does not constitute legal advice. The statements in this blog submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Robinson & Wood, Inc. or its clients. No attorney-client relationship is formed by virtue of reading this blog entry or submitting a comment thereto. If you need legal advice, please hire licensed attorney in your state.

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Colin McCarthy

Colin G. McCarthy is a partner in the business litigation, products liability, and insurance practice groups at Robinson & Wood in San Jose, California.

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